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Looking back at state high school basketball championships

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Lehi players react after teammate Peter Amakasu dunked in the final minute of the 5A boys basketball championship against Farmington at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The start was delayed a bit, but once the high school basketball season finally tipped off teams navigated the COVID-19 restrictions successfully to finish the season on time, and with many more fans able to watch than at the beginning of the season.

By the end there were several familiar faces lifting state championship trophies, and many who weren’t. State title droughts upwards of 60 years came to an end this season, which made for some chaotic and wild celebrations.

Here’s a look back at the boys and girls state tournaments for all six boys and girls classifications.

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Davis players celebrate their win over Westlake during the 6A boys basketball championship game at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Davis won 60-55.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

6A boys

When Davis lost to Region 4 schools Pleasant Grove and Corner Canyon by 13 points each time to open the season, it appeared Davis might have a drop-off after a runner-up finish the year before.

It turns out those knee-jerk reactions were wrong. Davis learned from those early losses and went 22-2 the rest of the season to win its first state championship since 2002.

The Darts went 13-1 to win Region 1, and then in the state tournament eliminated supposedly-superior Region 4 teams Pleasant Grove, Corner Canyon and Westlake during the final three rounds to win the title.

“To be honest, our whole group, we’ve been sick of hearing about the Region 4 teams and all that,” said Davis senior Rex Sunderland. “We’ve had a chip on our shoulder. Everybody’s sleeping on Region 1, and we came out here and proved it.”

Davis’ Chance Trujillo was named the Deseret News 6A Tournament MVP after averaging 19.5 points in the Darts’ final two playoff wins.

Davis’ closest game in the playoffs was actually a 41-39 second -round win over region foe Layton after it rallied for the win with a 16-9 fourth quarter.

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Fremont’s Emma Calvert (25) and teammates hoist the trophy as they celebrate their win over Herriman during the 6A girls basketball championship game at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Fremont won 63-43.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

6A girls

A year after coming up short in the 6A title game, Fremont put together a perfect follow-up season despite definite adversity as it claimed the 6A state championship with a perfect 26-0 record.

The fact it did so without one of its top players Timea Gardner, who was injured during the season, speaks to just how talented the depth is in the program.

“Since last year’s heartache, these girls have poured their soul into this,” said Fremont head coach Lisa Dalebout. “For (the season) to end this way is pure sweet, because I’ve never coached a group that deserved it more. It has been such a beautiful journey this year.”

Fremont avenged last year’s championship loss to Bingham by beating the Miners in the semifinals and then rolled past Herriman 63-43 in the championship.

BYU bound Emma Calvert scored 30 points in the title game, and finished her career with 1,641 points. With her outstanding senior season Calvert moved up to No. 10 on the all-time scoring list in Utah. She was named the Deseret News 6A Tournament MVP.

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Lehi’s Preston Varner hoists the trophy as his team celebrates beating Farmington in the 5A boys basketball championship at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

5A boys

Maybe Quincy Lewis is a magician after all.

After inheriting an above average team that went 13-10 the year before, Lewis brought a championship mentality to Lehi that his players eventually fulfilled with a dream state tournament run to claim its first state title since 1998.

“As soon as he came in he called me up and said we’re winning the state championship, I thought he was crazy at first but then as we went along, I started believing,” said Lehi leading scorer Noa Gonsalves.

The Pioneers were late bloomers as they finished tied for third in Region 7 with just a 6-6 record and ended the regular season with a 13-8 mark.

In the playoffs though Lehi topped Viewmont, Bonneville, Olympus and Farmington to secure the title.

Lehi’s Peter Amakasu was named the Deseret News 5A Tournament MVP for clutch performances throughout the state tourney.

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Springville celebrates after beating Farmington in the 5A girls basketball championship at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

5A girls

Like Fremont in 6A, Springville bounced back from heartache a year ago with a state championship this season.

In a well-played, defensive showdown between No. 1 Farmington and No. 3 Springville in the championship, Springville’s Lauryn Deede scored on a layup at the buzzer to clinch the first state title for the program since 2014.

Her dramatic shot during the final basketball game of the entire 2020-2021 season for boys or girls came 10 seconds after Farmington’s Abigail Ferrell had drained a free-throw line jumper.

“She was so athletic, you could just see it was going in from the beginning. There was much composure,” said Springville coach Holli Averett about Deede, who was named the Deseret News 5A Tournament MVP.

Springville finished the season with a 22-2 record, with playoff wins over East, Maple Mountain, Lehi and Farmington. Its only two losses of the season were to 6A programs back in December.

Springville finished the season giving up the fewest points in 5A at 30.9 ppg, which was seven fewer points than anyone else.

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The Cedar Reds react to winning the 4A boys championship basketball game against Desert Hills at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

4A boys

The Cedar City Reds always believed they had championship potential, but COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the team throughout the season and they weren’t finally able to prove it until the playoffs.

Throughout the season, seven of Cedar’s top eight players missed an extended amount of practice and games because of COVID-19, but it still posted a very solid 15-6 record during the regular season.

For the playoffs everyone was healthy and clicking on all cylinders, and the result was the school’s first state title since 1995 as Cedar beat region foe Desert Hills 64-59 in the final.

In the playoffs, Cedar beat Green Canyon, Crimson Cliffs, Ridgeline and Desert Hills to claim the title, which included overcoming a 16-point deficit to Crimson Cliffs in the quarterfinals.

““It’s fun to play basketball, that’s why I do it. I don’t do it for anything else. I just have fun out here,” said Cedar’s Zeb Santana, who averaged 15.3 points during the three wins at the Sevier Valley Center and was named the 4A Tournament MVP.

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Sky View point guard Macy Hellstern holds the team trophy as Sky View celebrates its victory over Logan in the 4A girls championship basketball game at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Sky View won 56-54.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

4A girls

Sky View wasn’t the best team in Region 11 this season, finishing fourth behind Logan, Green Canyon and Ridgeline in the standings with a 6-4 record.

Thanks to timely shooting at the 4A state tournament, particularly from 3-point range, Sky View finished the season as 4A’s best team though with a 56-54 victory over region foe Logan in the state title game.

“I told them at the end of the game, every ladder we ran was for this moment, every layup that you made in practice was for this moment. Every minute you spent in the gym was for this moment. They worked so hard, and I know that every team does, and unfortunately there’s only one team that ends at the top, but the fact they worked so hard it’s for this moment and it’s worth it,” said Sky View coach Vanessa Hall.

Sky View shot 48% from the field in the title game which was necessary to hold off Deseret News 4A Tournament MVP Amber Kartchner, who averaged 27.6 ppg in the three playoff games at the Sevier Valley Center.

3A boys

Juab backed up an outstanding regular season with an even more impressive run in the 3A state tournament to claim the school’s first state championship in 61 years.

Its path to the title included playoff wins over South Summit, Richfield, Judge Memorial and San Juan in the title game.

The win over Richfield in the quarterfinals avenged one of Juab’s three losses during the regular season, a 23-point setback to the Wildcats in the opener.

Juab made tremendous strides since that game to end decades of frustration within the program.

“It’s a super senior bunch. We’ve been really close before, but just weren’t able to get it done,” said Juab coach Kamron Wright. “They just know how to win. That senior bunch just pulled us through. I just can’t say enough about them.”

Juab’s Brendon Allred was named the Deseret News 3A Tournament MVP.

3A girls

Morgan’s first state championship since 2004 was the most unlikely of the 12 boys and girls state champs this season.

Morgan qualified for the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, but in the final three games of the state tournament it beat No. 1 South Sevier, No. 4 Carbon and then No. 2 Emery in the championship game. It trailed Emery by 12 points in the first half, but rallied for the 51-47 win. Back in the first of the season Morgan lost to Emery by 29 points, a remarkable turnaround indeed. It also lost to South Sevier during the regular season as well.

“I really think we just came together and realized it’s about our team and how we play together,” said Morgan’s Janel Blazzard about the rough start. “That’s what gets us through those hard spots.”

It was the same mentality that carried Morgan through the challenges of the 17-8 season.

Alexandra Trussell was named the Deseret News 3A Tournament MVP after averaging 14.3 ppg during Morgan’s four playoff wins.

2A boys

After bowing out of the 2A state tournament the year before in the quarterfinals, Layton Christian made up for it in a big way this year in winning the state championship.

The Eagles beat Millard, Monticello, Parowan and Enterprise during their playoff run, with its toughest test coming in the semis as it beat Parowan 50-46.

Coach Bobby Porter missed some time earlier in the season because COVID-19, and wasn’t sure he’d be able to get back coaching the team this year. It all worked out in the end.

“I knew I had to come back and coach these guys. (My assistants) did a fantastic job while I was out,” said Porter, who highlight the great work of assistant coach Ed Thompson during his time away.

Thompson is a member of the Idaho State University athletic hall of fame.

Layton Christian’s Jerheim Elder was named the Deseret News 2A Tournament MVP.

2A girls

North Summit’s 34-year state title drought is over.

The Braves marched through Gunnison Valley, Duchesne, Millard and Kanab to end over three decades of playoff frustration. They used a huge 16-point advantage in the second quarter against Kanab to roll to the championship with the 65-48 win.

“This is an amazing bunch of girls. They don’t quit,” said coach Jerre Holmes. “They were determined tonight to make sure that we didn’t have to come to the crunch and go to overtime.”

Back in mid-December North Summit lost to Kanab and Beaver in games played at the Sevier Valley Center. It only lost one more game the rest of the year — to 4A’s Ridgeline — as it marched the 2021 portion of the schedule with great confidence.

Marci Richins scored 30 points in the championship game and was named the Deseret News 2A Tournament MVP.

1A boys

Between 2002 and 2016, Panguitch had several talented teams but could never quite get over the state championship. Now the program has won three titles in the past five years after claiming another 1A championship with a title game victory over Wendover.

It is the eighth state championship in school history, which is tied for sixth in state history.

En route to the championship, the Bobcats beat Water Canyon, Piute, Valley and Wendover, with the closest game a nine-point win over Valley in the semis.

“I have a group of kids who have worked hard every day,” said Panguitch coach Clint Barney. “They’ve been selfless, with no egos, and they share the ball. We’ve had one thing in mind, and that was to win a state championship, and at times it didn’t look like it would happen.”

Panguitch had lost in the title game each of the past two years, but Paxton Wolfley helped the team get over the top in 2021 as he was named the Deseret News 1A Tournament MVP.

1A girls

Region 20 was very competitive at the top this season, so it was no surprise the final four teams at the 1A state tournament all hailed from Region 20 as well.

Top seed Valley had beaten No. 2 seed Piute twice during region play, but Piute returned the favor at state as it held off a late push from the Buffaloes for the 44-40 victory. 

“Valley is a superb team. They have great leadership and ... girls who can score quick and fast,” Said Piute coach Tim Westwood. “I kept telling the girls, ‘They’re going to come back. You’ve got to stay on your toes.’”

It was Piute’s first state title since 2010.

Piute’s Kassidy Westwood was named the Deseret News 1A Tournament MVP after averaging 17 ppg during the three tournament games at the Sevier Valley Center.